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Converting a carport into a greenhouse

See how you can convert your carport into a greenhouse

If you are currently growing your own food at home or you are wanting to grow your own food then having a dedicated growing area over the colder months is a must. However, when it comes to greenhouses there is usually a compromise that needs to be made when it comes to space and cost. 

The video on the left and the remainder of this project talk about the seasonal benefits associated with having a greenhouse along with my personal experience and motivation. 

If your decision is that you need a greenhouse then a carport is the perfect opportunity. This allows you to reduce structural costs, which means a quick and easy option to add growing space to your garden.

 

Seasonal benefits of having a greenhouse

They way I like to consider the benefits of having a greenhouse, or whether a greenhouse was needed for me, is to break it down per season. By breaking it down per season we carefully consider the requirements and outputs. This will ensure that we don’t cook plants in summer or freeze them in winter.

N.B. TO BE ABLE TO GET THESE INSIGHTS YOU NEED TO LIVE ON THE PROPERTY FOR AT LEAST 1 FULL YEAR TO HAVE THE CORRECT INSIGHTS ABOUT THE SEASON ARCH OF THE SUN, LIGHT EXPOSURE, RAIN, WIND STREGTNH, WIND DIRECTION, ETC. 

Spring

1. EARLY START: The primary reason I needed a greenhouse was to get an early start to the growing season and get plants out into the garden or food forest in a more mature state so they are less vulnerable to bug and bird attacks.

2. PEST CONTROL: Where I am based we struggle immensely with the fruit fly and getting an early start on squash and cucurbits to prevent them from stinging and damaging the foods. A greenhouse also provides a safer environment for seedlings to survive snail, slug, snout nose beetles, shield bugs and many other pests looking to feat on tender young plants. 

3. EARLY BERRY SEASON: Berry’s are an incredible addition to any food forest or vegetable garden and having more berries, for longer, is always a win. A greenhouse allows berries planted in the greenhouse to heat up, wake up and start producing a littler earlier than your outdoor berries, which means more berries over a longer period of time. 

 

Summer

1. CONTROLLING SUN EXPOSURE: Now I know this might sound crazy, but too much sun can be just as detrimental to plant health and growth as too little. A greenhouse allows you to better control the amount of sun plants are exposed to during the hottest months of the year.

2. LIMITING WIND EXPOSURE: Where I am from, the wind in summer is relentless. Very strong, or continuous summer winds can quickly dry out plants, or put them under stress, causing their growth to be impacted. A greenhouse allows you control wind exposure and airflow to get the perfect amount of airflow your plants need. 

Autumn

1. EXTEND THE GROWING SEASON: Summer is a wonderful time to grow food and enjoy everything food forests and vegetable garden have to offer, so when the cooler months start to roll in having a greenhouse allows us to extend the growing season by a few more weeks, which might mean sneaking in 1 more small harvest before the plants go to sleep.

2. CREATE A MORE CONTROLLED TRANSITION INTO WINTER: By extending the growing season we also create an environment that has a more controlled transition from summer to winter. Where I am, we tend to not have autumn. We head from intense summer heat to wet cold with in a few weeks. A greenhouse allows for this transition to be more gentle on your plants. 

Winter

1. CONTROL MOISTURE: There are a lot of issues that come with constant exposure to wet environments. There are many forms of fungal and bacterial diseases that come to life in constantly moist environment as well as some plants that do not like having wet feet. A greenhouse allows you to control moisture levels and exposure to rain in plants that need it. 

2. DISEASE/FUNGAL: As mentioned above the winter rainfall areas struggle with many different types of bacterial and fungal issues. Controlling or limiting this will give you happier and more productive plants. 

3. PEST CONTROL: Winter is a pest-fest. Slugs, snails, caterpillars, you name it, all want to feast on your delicious and nutritious greens and a greenhouse is a great environment to control access and better control pests if they get inside. 

Why a traditional greenhouse might NOT be your best option

So now you know all the possible reasons (there might be more) for needing a greenhouse and now comes the biggest decision of all – which greenhouse you are going to go for. There are so many different kinds that range from containers, to shelved greenhouse tents, hoop houses and then fully fledged agricultural greenhouses.

All these greenhouses share the same 2 issues. These are the 2 main issues why I opted to convert and re-purpose my carport into a greenhouse.

Firstly, space. Traditional greenhouses, even the small tented shelf greenhouses take up much needed space. When you look at hoop houses or more traditional greenhouses then space disappears quicker than you realise. What you are left with is an amazing growing environment that gives you lots of benefits but no space to actually plant out your seedlings and hardened off plants. If you have a farm or smallholding then this obviously would not apply to you. As this website and YouTube channel is targeted primary at urban living and urban sustainability.

Secondly, sustainability. The amount of plastic that greenhouses use is just mind boggling and very unsustainable. All the good you are doing by building your own soil and turning your food scraps into compost is easily undone by this. Not only does it use a lot of plastic, the harmful UV rays from the sun, wind and salty air all erode greenhouse plastic, meaning it needs to be replaced, promoting an even more unsustainable practice.

By converting my carport into a greenhouse I sourced used items from the dump (my windows and wood), used plywood sheets to divide sections and purchased clear and 60% block roof panels. Neither of these items would ever need to be placed and very little of it is being used.

 

To live sustainably we need to start to think smart and be resourceful.

 

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